It has been brought to my attention that something happened on Game of Thrones last night, and I feel so left out that I guess I finally have to crack and watch the whole thing in order to feel the emotions illustrated so viscerally in the video above. I can't even tell if these people are crying, because they're covering their faces with hands, blankets, and dogs, but they do seem to have trouble continuing to sip from their tiny goblets of red wine and some of them assume the fetal position. If you're suffering from GoT PTSD, go crawl into your hole and catch up on the best movies of 2012 on Netflix. It will all be OK. I think. Did dragons crash the wedding, or what?
Congratulations to Marta, the MVP of the Puppy Bowl. Besides bolstering the efforts of animal rescue organizations, the Puppy Bowl serves as an adorable (I hate that word, but let's call it like it is) example of the trend of celebritizing animals: "A famous animal can become an ambassador for its species, inspiring efforts to conserve the entire population." Not that puppies are endangered. BUT WHAT IF THEY WERE?
Back in February 2011, The New Yorker published Lawrence Wright's "The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology," one of the more expansive and informed explorations of the mysterious workings of the organization to date. But that was just the beginning. Wright, the first-ballot journalism Hall of Famer behind the masterful The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, has now expanded his research into Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, a book that might just prove to be the defining account of L. Ron Hubbard's minions and all they have wrought.
Ahead of its publication (it's out January 17), THR has excerpts from Going Clear's Hollywood-centric portions, which focus on the church's two biggest names: John Travolta and Tom Cruise. If you do have the time, make sure to read both pieces, which are fascinating and sad and thoroughly unbelievable. (By that point you'll probably want to pre-order the book, too.) But just because the guy in the cubicle over is probably already talking about that time Tom Cruise did a Risky Business on a Scientology sea-faring vessel, we went ahead and picked out some of the craziest bits.
For years now, stories about The Church of Scientology vetting Tom Cruise's ladies have floated around. The layman's understanding is that, under the auspices of an audition in the next Cruise blockbuster, comely young actresses are brought in and gauged as to their interest in signing a contract to pretend to love the American treasure. This is all, of course, extremely creepy. But is any of it true? [Dramatic pause.] [Read on for harrowing reveals] [Dramatic pause.]
In a preview of a longer article from their October issue — What Katie Didn't Know: Marriage, Scientology Style, by Maureen Orth — Vanity Fair offers some insight, via sources telling the story of Nazanin Boniandi, who was allegedly vetted by the Church before ultimately being given the heave-ho after a brief, but unsurprisingly intense, relationship with Cruise. Private Rockefeller rink ice skating sessions! Anti-red-hair bias! Lack of sex! Sushi dinners! The juicy bits, below:
Tom & Katie: "She pulled it off brilliantly. She knew how to get him." When Holmes left on a work trip to China in June, she found out that "Tom was beginning to audit Suri behind her back." Cruise's rep denies it. Auditing is the Scientology practice of "asking specifically worded questions designed to find areas of emotional distress." When Katie visited Tom on the Oblivion set in Iceland, "Tom was filming and Katie tried to discipline Suri over something. But one of Tom's Scientology handlers stepped in and said they couldn't let her do that, and they would have to call Tom." Katie "snapped" and realized her 6-year-old daughter was being indoctrinated. "There's an escalation of involvement when kids hit school age." According to one insider, "It wasn't so much Cruise she feared, but his inner circle and the people handling her. They were so controlling it was terrifying." Katie was "monitored around the clock" and "felt she was being watched more than protected."
The most interesting detail to leak out so far about the Cruise-Holmes divorce spectacular is that Katie Holmes used a burner to call her lawyers and start the divorce proceedings. Usually reserved for drug dealers and people having affairs, the disposable phone was a particularly stealth move on Holmes's part. She didn't buy it herself, but had a friend procure it. It means that Cruise presumably found out his wife was leaving him at the same time everyone else in the world did. He had no time to plan a public counter-strategy or beg her privately to stay. It also makes you wonder if her phone was being tapped, or if she had a reason to be paranoid it might be.
As you may know, Paul Thomas Anderson has a new movie, The Master, coming out in October. You may know this thanks to the shrill, girlish squeals of excitement that we here at Grantland emit every time any new scrap of info on The Master is revealed. Or you may know this thanks to the storm of anti-Scientology sentiment upon which The Master — which is "not about Scientology" in the least "not about Scientology" way possible — will soon be riding into theaters. As the New York Daily News reports, Tom Cruise has seen an early cut of the movie. And Tom Cruise, dear friends, is not pleased with what he has seen. Oh, this is so on.